The holidays have led to a COVID-19 surge in New York and other parts of the country as well as the world. New York state recently hit one million cases of the virus. Sadly, in excess of 30,000 people in the state have passed away as a result of contracting COVID-19. The recent spike in coronavirus cases is likely the result of people getting together for the Christmas and New Year holidays.
A look at the Numbers
On the first day of the new year, the United States hit 20 million total coronavirus cases. This is twice as many infections than any other nation. The coronavirus pandemic recently infected more than 15,000 people within New York state, a figure that is only slightly less than the state’s prior record of 16,802 cases. Part of the spike in cases in New York can be attributed to New York City’s three airports that serve more than 100 million passengers each year.
Is Air Travel the Primary Problem?
During the holidays, the United States reached its highest level of air travel since the middle of March when the pandemic first started. This is precisely why government officials and medical professionals are worried there will be a massive surge in coronavirus cases in the days and weeks ahead. Though the pandemic continues to rage on, more than a million individuals passed through airport security checkpoints on a recent Saturday during the holiday period.
Air travel has declined this year in comparison with previous years, yet it spiked during the holiday period. This increase in travel is particularly concerning as public officials and medical professionals have warned the public about the dangers of public travel. Furthermore, authorities have also requested that the public refrain from gathering with family members outside of those in their own home. However, as stated by Dr. Anthony Fauci, the pandemic is likely to worsen in the weeks ahead due to the fallout from holiday travel and gatherings.
Sadly, December was the pandemic’s most infectious and deadly month in the United States. According to Johns Hopkins University, the United States is averaging in excess of 2,600 deaths every single day.
Travelers’ Actions Impact Everyone Else
Even some of those who have remained at home for the entirety of the pandemic but for the occasional trip to the grocery store are now testing positive for COVID-19. This is the result of the carelessness of those who refuse to follow the recommendations of government officials and health professionals. In fact, several states have identified multiple cases of the new, highly transmissible COVID-19 strain in individuals with absolutely no travel history. In other words, those who are traveling and attending family get-togethers along with other social gatherings are putting everyone in harm’s way. After all, these individuals inevitably interact with others who have followed the rules, whether it is at the local grocery store, the gas station, the post office, or elsewhere.
Holiday Travelers Might be Super Spreaders
Students who went home for the holidays and returned to campus as well as those who visited family and returned to the office have the potential to become coronavirus super spreaders. Many of these holiday travelers came into contact with the virus, contracted it and spread it to friends, family, colleagues and strangers when crossing paths in the days after the initial point of contraction.
Through rapid testing certainly helps, it can only do so much. The rise of more transmissible COVID-19 strains complicates the problem. If coronavirus cases continue to increase in the days and weeks ahead, medical professionals and government officials alike will likely blame holiday travelers for the rise in transmission along with related illness and death.